Red Bull’s Max Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to take his twelfth pole in 22 races this yr on the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen was 0.139 seconds forward of Leclerc, whereas McLaren’s Lando Norris appeared to lose an opportunity for pole with an error on his closing lap.
A slide at Turn 13 left Norris down in fifth place behind team-mate Oscar Piastri and Mercedes’ George Russell.
Lewis Hamilton was eleventh, out of the highest 10 for the second race in a row.
Hamilton stated to his race engineer Peter Bonnington over the workforce radio earlier than returning to the pits: “There’s something wrong with this car, mate.”
The seven-time world champion was 0.346secs slower than Russell within the second session.
Marko bets towards Verstappen
Although the outcome appears to be like solely predictable on paper, inside Red Bull there was some doubt as as to whether Verstappen might safe pole after a troublesome weekend as much as qualifying.
Leclerc has taken pole place at three of the previous 4 races and Verstappen had gave the impression to be struggling by means of the three follow periods, complaining of his automotive bottoming and bouncing, and affected by an absence of entrance grip on Friday and lack of rear on Saturday.
The extent of his struggles was clear when it was revealed by workforce principal Christian Horner in a dialog with Verstappen over the workforce radio that Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko had wager him 500 euro that Verstappen wouldn’t be on the entrance row.
“Helmut lost a bet?” Verstappen stated. “What world are we living in?”
But Verstappen stated his automotive was significantly better in qualifying after some adjustments and he’ll begin his closing race of essentially the most dominant season in historical past from the entrance of the grid.
Verstappen stated: “Very weird. The whole weekend so far has been a bit of a struggle. We definitely improved the car for qualifying and from lap one it seemed a bit more together and we could push more.
“Around right here, with the tyres, you could have little slides and it could price you a variety of lap time. That was taking place to us in follow however in qualifying it was a bit extra related.”
Leclerc was another driver to surprise himself in qualifying, as Ferrari had also had a difficult lead-up to the session.
On the first runs in the top 10 shootout, Leclerc used scrubbed tyres, as did all other drivers apart from Verstappen, and was slowest.
But on new tyres, the Ferrari improved and Leclerc produced what he said was “a very, actually good lap”.
“It was a little bit of a shock as a result of, truthfully, contemplating the weekend we have had till now, I didn’t anticipate it in any respect.
“The last lap, I knew I had to put everything together. [At] the last corner there was a bit too much sliding but I think everybody had that.
“Really completely satisfied in second place. Q1 and Q2 I used to be frightened to undergo so to be on the entrance row is nice.
“Our car is very peaky. On scrubbed tyres it was a good lap but I was last. On new tyres everything came together.”
Piastri had been the slower McLaren driver all weekend however Norris’ error allowed the Australian to sneak forward for a powerful outcome on the finish of a powerful rookie season.
Piastri, who’s below investigation for impeding Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, stated: “Difficult session,” he stated. “It has been close this weekend. A bit of a messy one.
“I’ve been struggling to get it collectively this weekend, earlier than qualifying I had not finished a lap with out a mistake. I did higher in qualifying.”
Struggles for Hamilton and Norris
Norris was furious with himself for his error, which he feels continues a theme of making mistakes at crucial times in qualifying – most notably with track limits errors in Qatar last month.
“Terrible,” he said. “I must be… I do not care the place I must be. I made a mistake and ruined my day. I simply hope I can battle again. The automotive is nice. Another Saturday ruined.”
Russell said that he had expected to fight at the front after being fastest in final practice.
“I assumed we might battle for pole and we simply did not make the bounce each different workforce appeared to make,” Russell stated.
“Maybe we acquired forward of ourselves after P3 after a really sturdy session. We have been quickest each lap and on paper when the observe drops 10C and you are taking out the gas, you anticipate to make a one second bounce however we solely made a 0.6secs bounce.”
But he added that fourth was “an amazing place to start out” the race.
Hamilton stated: “Just a really unpredictable automotive and it has been the identical all yr.
“I am definitely happy it is nearly over.
“More inconsistent than ever earlier than – the second you hit the brakes, the second you flip, the second you hit the apex, it is massively out of steadiness and really laborious to foretell what is going on to occur.”
Team principal Toto Wolff stated: “It simply did not come collectively, expectations have been larger. I’m fed up with having explanations why.
“We were good in the hot, not in the cold. I am just happy this was the last qualifying of the season and we are going to come with a new car.”
Behind Norris, Yuki Tsunoda was a powerful sixth within the closely upgraded Alpha Tauri, the workforce elevating eyebrows up and down the pit lane as to the extent of the variety of new components they’ve been in a position to carry this season.
Fernando Alonso was seventh for Aston Martin, forward of the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg, the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez – who certified fifth initially however had his quickest lap deleted for exceeding observe limits – and Gasly.